Protecting and restoring nature requires that the NPS increase its scientific capacity through innovative means, including introducing new scientists to conservation science, engaging experienced scientists in park-related research, and capturing the energy and imagination of those interested in helping protect our national parks. With fewer on-site scientists, it is critical that parks find new ways to connect with the scientific community and with the public. There are pilot efforts that can be built on and new projects to achieve this support. These projects also provide a good opportunity to increase diversity through intensive outreach to students and academics from under-represented populations.
Priority projects in this category would be:
Create Internships and Fellowships to Tap a New Generation of Scientists
Provide funding for students at all levels to conduct studies in parks, matching park needs to students’ expertise and interests. Areas of focus would likely include climate change-related research, assistance with geological and biological inventories and investigations, and providing ‘ambassadors’ with special expertise to help with educational programs in parks and community outreach.
Use Citizen Scientists to Detect Changes in Species in Appalachian Trail (AT) Parks
These parks present a valuable north/south transect for understanding responses to climate change, especially how the timing of life cycle events (like flowering and migration) is shifting and how this affects interactions of species with each other (like flowers and butterflies) and with their physical environment. Current citizen science projects along the AT need to be coordinated to ensure the best science and management, and expanded.